Sygic GPS Navigation review: Should you pay for navigation-apps? | NextPit
Before you start, it’s important for you to know that sygic gps navigation is the most popular offline navigation app on google play store. That’s quite an achievement, considering that Google and Apple already offer native offline browsing options that are pre-installed and free. so what are the advantages of using sygic as navigation app instead of google maps or apple maps?
to be really honest, i love google maps. and as a long time pixel user, google design just ‘feels right’, and i fondly remember a very lonely vacation in bucharest where i had this crazy idea to rent a bike. With google maps in my back pocket, I was able to explore the foreign city on non-existent bike lanes and even ended up finding a nice restaurant. But what would have happened if I had left my free roaming zone, also known as the EU, back then?
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- costs and benefits of sygic premium+
- operation and design
- test drive with sygic: key features explored!
- additional stuff: android auto, dashcam and more
sygic gps navigation perfectly bridges the gap between “conventional” sat navs and smartphones. If necessary, sygic can download maps from all over the world to your mobile phone. In addition, there are useful additional features in the premium+ version that are especially useful if you are traveling by car.
want to try sygic yourself? download it here!
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over the last few weeks I have used sygic frequently to find out where the benefits of spending money on a satnav app lie in 2021.
sygic navigation: costs and benefits of premium+
if you type the name sygic in the google play store, you will find several apps. That’s because the Slovak company offers alternative versions for truckers and campers and even an app to compare fuel prices. According to Wikipedia, Sygic GPS Navigation is the “world’s most widely used offline navigation software for smartphones.”
sygic: cost comparison chart
one of the reasons for the popularity of sygic is that it is free and you only need to pay if you want to use the premium features. The free version of Sygic already offers offline maps, an offline search, countless points of interest, and even warns you about speed cameras. the table below should make it easier for you to understand what you get extra with the premium version.
sygic: free vs. premium+
In case these features seem compelling enough to pay for a premium+ plan, you have to choose between two different subscriptions. or you pay 29.99 euros once a year or 13.99 euros every three months. this results in monthly costs of €2.49 for the annual subscription and €4.66 for the three-month plan.
The biggest shortcoming of the free version is the lack of voice instructions. These are pretty essential for in-car navigation because otherwise you’d be constantly looking at your phone for directions. at the same time, the overview shows how extensive sygic’s premium+ plan is. that is the reason why I will show you some interesting features later. But first, let’s take a look at sygic’s user interface and layout. short spoiler: sygic is especially useful while driving.
operation and design: ease of use comes first
While “regular” apps can be super fancy, the focus of sygic navigation is primarily ease of use. after all, sygic should be as easy to use as possible when you pull over on the side of the road to change your route (wink!).
As with navigation applications, you can use sygic in both portrait and landscape modes. there you see a map in a top view or a slightly tilted 3d view and control all the features from here. there’s also a search bar at the top of the screen that works for both directions and points of interest.
it’s commendable that sygic doesn’t rely solely on map control via gestures. There is a “+” and “-” symbol on the right edge that allows you to zoom out, zoom in and switch between 3D and 2D mode. Through the three dots at the bottom right of the screen, nine other menu items can be accessed, including real-view navigation, the dashcam function, and head-up display.
all other settings and special features are accessible via a sidebar. you’ll quickly notice that sygic made all the most important features quickly accessible and removed everything else from the navigation screen. a good decision that fits very well with the intention and purpose of sygic.
test drive with sygic: how good are the maps and navigation features?
Various features and convenience are useless if you don’t get to your destination quickly and safely. that’s why we took sygic for a ride around berlin and tested the navigation and checked how the app avoids roadblocks or traffic jams. Let’s make four stops along the way to talk about certain things again!
stop 1: quality of maps and routes
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tomtom creates all the maps used by sygic. in case you don’t know, tomtom is a dutch company that makes portable satnavs and is one of the market leaders in the world of navigation systems. therefore, the maps are of the highest quality. as a premium customer, you will receive updates to these maps once a month.
virtual berlin is on par with the real version and also competes with the virtual version of google maps. Another positive thing I noticed is that even the house numbers are included, and there are even 3D models of buildings. this gives a higher quality feel to the maps included in sygic.
route guidance in sygic navigation also works at a higher level. however, in practice I had problems with one-way streets, which sygic wanted to direct me towards again and again. in general, sygic often chooses a different path than google maps, but that’s not bad in itself.
if you can’t drive to a street and choose a detour, sygic will automatically calculate a new route. Although you have to be a little more careful when driving around the world so as not to break any traffic laws, sygic is a good travel companion. especially since all the maps are offline and detours never lead to problems due to lack of connectivity.
stop 2: traffic jams, closures and pois
In foreign cities you don’t always know where you are or where to go, and travel never runs smoothly. sygic offers millions of pois – “points of interest”, that is, restaurants, parking lots, public places and more. opening hours and parking prices can also be seen on the screen when the internet connection is active. however, ratings like google maps offers are not rendered.
if there are road works on the way, sygic navigation will automatically navigate around them. and this is exactly where being a premium customer pays off, as monthly updates bring much more up-to-date maps. In addition to the updated closures, you can also avoid road works thanks to the traffic jam avoidance feature.
This feature can’t stream only map updates, so sygic includes traffic info from tomtom. Like Google, TomTom collects information from several million devices to detect traffic jams. with an active internet connection, enjoy up-to-date traffic information.
stop 3: lane assist and voice output
the built-in lane assist turned out to be particularly useful for navigation in a car. it is a real advantage compared to google maps. if you have to turn left at a major intersection, sygic shows you which lane to use in a small window. everything works unobtrusively and is really useful in big cities like berlin.
also practical in the big city: the frequency of the voice output. If you don’t know how to move and don’t want to constantly look at your mobile phone, it’s really great. It’s a bit embarrassing that you have to download and activate the natural voice in the settings first. that’s because the default text-to-speech doesn’t sound very nice.
stop 4: search for parking spaces, fuel prices and recharging electric cars
For the last stop, we arrive at our destination and want to fill our car with gas or find a parking space. sygic will help you with all these activities.
with a tap on the parking symbol, sygic automatically searches for parking spaces near your destination. if you have an active internet connection, you can also see the prices and opening hours here. the same is true for gas station fuel prices, although sygic also offers a standalone app called “fuelio” to find the cheapest gas stations.
sygic navigation also offers interesting cooperation with plugsurfing, the largest network of electric charging stations in europe. If you switch to EV mode, you will be shown the free charging stations in real time. as long as plugsurfing is supported, payment is also made directly through sygic. a handy feature, but not yet relevant to all users.
additional features: android auto, dashcam and more
as we are already talking about exciting additional features: sygic turns out to be a real gold mine when it comes to extras! and I would like to go into more detail about some features that I already mentioned in the table above. Let’s start with android auto, because there have been some changes here recently.
android auto and carplay: native app thanks to third-party openings
In August 2020, Google opened up the “Android Auto” platform to third-party apps that offer parking search, navigation, or display electric charging stations. this leads to sygic benefiting from a native application. This integration will allow you to launch sygic directly from your car’s infotainment system.
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The actual computing work is still done on your phone, but the operation and voice output is done by your car. In daily use, this feature is super convenient. You can control the Sygic interface via your car’s touchscreen, and voice commands are built into your vehicle’s radio. it is also displayed on the screen if you need to go left or right at the next intersection.
If you don’t have an Android smartphone, you benefit from integration into Apple’s CarPlay system. however, this is a feature we were unable to test in our review.
dashcam and ar navigation
if your phone hangs from the windshield instead of the center console, you’ll benefit from two more premium features from sygic. First of all, you can turn your phone into a dashcam, which is even compliant with German law thanks to the 5-minute loop function. and secondly, sygic offers augmented reality navigation.
this feature currently shows you the live view from your smartphone camera with an overlay of important information. in addition, you will also see a transparent map as an overlay on top of the camera view. sygic told me while reviewing that this feature will be further extended and made easier to use. so stay tuned if you decide to go with a premium+ subscription.
hud and cockpit
here are two nice little additions! first of all, sygic can also be used as a hud, like a “front display”. to activate it, you place your smartphone under the windshield so that you can see the instructions and your speed in the reflection of the windshield. this works especially well in the dark, and I recommend two things:
Best use the feature on a phone with an oled screen, otherwise the backlit screen is quite reflective. and buy a non-slip mat because otherwise your phone will slide all over the dash. you can get one for a few bucks on amazon, and then the hud feature is a really cool thing.
cockpit mode is something for car nerds. Here you can see not only the speed and a compass, but also the inclination or g-forces of your car. less interesting to me, but maybe you’ll like it!
conclusion: sygic is great, especially for longer trips
In conclusion, it’s safe to say that sygic is a very good offline navigation app. the ease of use matches the quality of the maps and the extra features are impressive. the monthly costs are justified in my opinion, if you are willing to pay for a navigation app.
sygic told me that the main users of gps navigation are families with parents over the age of 45. consequently, the use case would be family trips with more hours of driving. in these cases, you can easily save a lot of data charges and not be dependent on a cellular service for your browsing data.
I am 28 years old, I am far from having children and I live in the largest and most modern city in Germany. therefore I am the opposite of sygic’s target group. but I still found the premium features interesting, especially the lane assist, which is a big plus for me when navigating busy berlin.
all sygic users, even without a subscription, can benefit from high-quality offline maps that let you quickly find points of interest and wayfinding, even if you’re in areas without cell service. the offline maps aren’t too big either. all german roads only take up about a gigabyte of space on my phone.
sygic is also a good alternative if you don’t want to give all your browsing data to google or apple. Although access to your GPS must be granted, you don’t have to share every point of interest or address you want to navigate to. last but not least you can upgrade your old car with some new features like hud or a dashcam.
interested in sygic and want to try it yourself? you can download the app for free and even try the premium+ features for several days as a trial.
This article was written in collaboration with sygic. that means nextpit received a commission for the post. this did not influence the editorial content.